- 30 Nov 1917 (Creation)
Level of description
Content and Structure
Scope and content
A Retrospective read at the Jubilee Dinner in the Club House, 151 Bath Street, 30 November 1917.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.
System of arrangement
The material is arranged in the order in which it was deposited.
Name of creator
The Glasgow Art Club, which has occupied its existing Bath Street premises since 1893, was founded in 1867 by William Dennistoun, a young amateur artist who had been forced by ill health to leave the city. On Saturdays his friends went to see him at his cottage in rural Old Kilpatrick to draw and paint together. Dennistoun proposed that they should form an art club. He and 10 others, all amateur artists, held preliminary discussions in a tearoom above a Candleriggs baker's shop before launching the club in the Waverley Temperance Hotel in Buchanan Street. At their monthly meetings each member would bring a painting, usually a watercolour, and the others would comment. At times there could be fiery disputes. Membership grew in the 1870s, professional artists began to join, and exhibitions were held. Not surprisingly, the limitations of a temperance hotel began to be felt and in 1875 the club moved to a Sauchiehall Street hotel, also called Waverley, where something stronger than tea was to be had and annual dinners could be held in suitable style. A little later rooms were rented for six months at a time in the Royal Hotel, George Square. Life classes were held and occasional sketching classes. It was time for the club to find a place of its own, and in 1878 it moved to 62 Bothwell Circus and despite the depression following the City of Glasgow Bank failure, enough money was raised from the sales of paintings to help pay for the rent and furnishings and to hire a houskeeper. The continuing need for cash, however, helped to propel the club towards a critical move - the admission of lay members, which in any case was in tune with Glasgow's awakening interest in the arts. This proposal was strenously resisted at first but by the mid-1880s the painter James Guthrie was among influential members arguing successfully for change and male lay members began to be admitted, although women had to wait until 1983. To accommodate all the newcomers the club rented a new home at 151 Bath Street but this in turn was soon found to be cramped. It was time for Glasgow Art Club to buy its home. Two adjacent town houses were bought in Bath Street. John Keppie, already a member of the club, was put in charge of their conversion and he also created an adjoining gallery in the small back gardens. There is recent evidence that the young Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a hand in some of the gallery's ornamental details.The scene was thus set for countless dinners, dances, concerts, lectures and not least, exhibitions. The new rooms were opened on June 14, 1893. A short history of the first 100 years of the club, on which much of the above account is based, was written by the late J.M. Reid in 1967. [u]Famous Members[/u] Artist members of times past included James Guthrie and E. A. Walton, along with several other Glasgow Boys, although the pioneers of this group had initially been refused membership. Fra Newbery, the colourful head of Glasgow School of Art, was a member, as were many of his successors. Other notable members have included the photographer and art dealer James Craig Annan; the picturesque R.B. Cunninghame Graham, pioneer Scottish Nationalist and horseman of the South American pampas; Neil Munro; O.H. Mavor (James Bridie); and John MacCormick, leader of the Covenant movement for Scottish home rule. Among more recent artist members were David Donaldson, Alexander Goudie and Emilio Coia.
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
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Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
There are no physical characteristics that affect the use of this material.
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
No known copies.
Collection Historical Note
Established in 1867 and still existing, the Glasgow Art Club was a gentleman's club created for artists in Glasgow, Scotland, to exhibit together. Close links exist between the Glasgow School of Art and the Club and many formative members were teachers or Governors of the School.
The prime mover behind the formation of the Glasgow Art Club was William Dennistoun; other founder members included Peter S Buchannan, Duncan McLaurin and Robert Munro. In 1978 James Docharty was elected and, at the time, was regarded as being the the leading artistic member. Alexander Kellock Brown, a future President, declared in 1877 that it 'comprises in its membership all the leading artists in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.' Notwithstanding the boast, the Club rejected the applications of James Guthrie, W.Y. MacGregor, E.A. Walton and James Paterson. Archibald McGlashan was only admitted on condition that he formally withdrew 'any statement he had made about the club or any of its members.'
The club moved to its present premises in Bath Street in 1893. John Keppie was engaged as the architect and the two adjoining houses at Nos.187 and 191 Bath Street were combined in a scheme which involved the building of the Long Gallery where the gardens were situated at the back. The young architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh is believed to have designed the two fireplaces and the detailing for the doors and ventilators.
Place access points
People and Organisations
- The Glasgow School of Art (Subject)
Genre access points
Level of detail
- Fonds level description compiled by Adele Ashley-Smith, Archivist, 2000-2001.
- Updated by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 18 September 2001.
- Updated by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 14 May 2002.
- Fonds level descriptions imported from the Archives Hub 24 August 2006.
- Archives Hub description updated by Carrie Skinner, Logjam Project Officer, September 2011
- Catalogue imported into Archon software and edited by Michelle Kaye, Archon Project Officer, May 2014.
- Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.
Finding Aid Authors: The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.
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